Lieberman: My critics are losers

FM lashes out at political opponents, highlighting coalition's strength.

February 8, 2010 15:44
3 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

lieberman threatening 311. (photo credit: AP)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded defiantly on Monday to criticism over statements he made Thursday that were interpreted as threatening Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Lieberman created waves when he told an audience at Bar-Ilan University that Assad should know that in a war with Israel, he would not only lose militarily, but would also lose his control of Syria.

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MKs from the Left responded by calling for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to fire Lieberman for igniting potential war with Syria.

At a meeting of Israel Beiteinu’s faction in the Knesset, Lieberman read aloud the party’s platform, which denounces the approach of trading land for peace with Syria and instead preaches peace for peace. A year after the February 10, 2009 election, Lieberman said his party’s diplomatic platform had become that of Israel.

“All those who come to us with complaints about the policies of Israel and Israel Beiteinu are losers who lost the election,” Lieberman told the press. “The people who won the election are satisfied. Our policy is that we keep our word and our credibility. Those who come to us with complaints about our credibility are invited to read our platform online.”

Asked who he had in mind specifically when talking about losers, Lieberman told The Jerusalem Post that he was referring to “all my critics in the media and in politics.”

Asked whether Labor chairman Ehud Barak, who has criticized him lately, was included in that category, he said “Barak certainly didn’t win the election.”

Barak said afterward in a closed conversation that he did not believe Lieberman was referring to him personally but rather to politicians further to the Left.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni recalled that Barak said there would be war if Israel did not negotiate with Syria while Lieberman was warning that if there would be war, Assad would fall. She said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had not succeeded in explaining where his government was heading.

Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit responded by reminding Lieberman that Kadima won the most seats in the election. He said that Netanyahu only formed the government because Lieberman decided to empower the loser in the race.

Lieberman said he supported the diplomatic process with the Palestinians despite his doubts that a complete deal with the Palestinians could currently be reached and even though he took a harder line than politicians on the Left.

“I am sure the Palestinians prefer to negotiate with [former ministers Yossi] Sarid and [Yossi] Beilin than Netanyahu and Lieberman, but the Palestinians know, as do the Americans and Europeans that a deal brokered by Sarid and Beilin would never achieve a majority in Israel,” he said.

“However, any deal reached with Lieberman would be accepted by 90 percent of the population. That’s the entire difference.”

Lieberman vowed to do everything possible to implement the coalition agreement, including its promise of legislation enabling civil unions for couples unable to marry in Israel according to Jewish law.

“We will make an 100% effort to keep the promises we made to our voters, even though we won’t have 100% success,” he said.

Lieberman mocked the media spotlight on him by saying that a minister from another party in the coalition had called and asked in a frightened tone what he would tell the media.

“I told him I would talk about the border between Thailand and Cambodia,” he said. “The minister responded: I’ll tell my son to hurry home from Thailand.”

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